Pro­file Lachy Hulme

Hulme learned so much about Frank Packer while play­ing his son Kerry that he eas­ily slipped into the role as the se­nior Packer, writes Deb­bie Schipp.

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - TV Guide - - CELEBRITY -


SIR Frank Packer was a for­mi­da­ble busi­ness force with a Her­culean tem­per.

A street-fighter who rel­ished his bat­tles with Ru­pert Mur­doch, de­spised weak­ness, and found it eas­ier to show his love for his dog than he did to his sons, Clyde and Kerry.

But Lachy Hulme, the man who plays Sir Frank in Chan­nel 9’s hard-hit­ting minis­eries Power Games: The Packer Mur­doch Story has a sum­ma­tion that would have made the man him­self bris­tle.

‘‘The fun­da­men­tal dif­fer­ence be­tween Kerry Packer and his fa­ther was that Kerry was a supremely con­fi­dent man, and Sir Frank was an in­cred­i­bly in­se­cure man,’’ Hulme says.

Re­al­is­ing that, Hulme says, meant he was able to shed the Kerry Packer he played to such ac­claim in last year’s Howzat! Kerry Packer’s War, and be­come his fear­some fa­ther, Sir Frank, for Power Games.

‘‘When I was play­ing Kerry in Howzat! I ac­tu­ally read a lot about Sir Frank,’’ Hulme says.

‘‘All the bad as­pects of Kerry – I had sort of com­puted into my head that that was es­sen­tially his fa­ther.

‘‘So ini­tially play­ing Frank didn’t in­ter­est me. It felt like I’d played Frank be­cause I’d played the darker side of Kerry. Then I re­alised that fun­da­men­tal dif­fer­ence.

‘‘Sir Frank was ter­ri­fied of peo­ple’s opin­ions of him. He had a ter­ri­ble in­abil­ity to com­mu­ni­cate with his fam­ily, and he sub­sti­tuted locker room an­tics in lieu of love and affection to­wards peo­ple. ‘‘He was a smart busi­ness­man, as Kerry was. But far more ruth­less. ‘‘His need to outdo, out­last and out-think ev­ery­one was a mat­ter of life and death to him.’’

Span­ning the years from 1960 to 1972, Power Games is the story of Sir Frank’s bat­tle to run a ‘‘boy pub­lisher’’ named Ru­pert Mur­doch (played by Pa­trick Bram­mall) out of the me­dia game.

His­tory shows Mur­doch had no plans to go away, set­ting up epic ri­valry, and ul­ti­mately, a mu­tual re­spect.

‘‘In the story we are telling, along comes this young fel­low Ru­pert Mur­doch, and Frank can see what Mur­doch’s go­ing to be­come even be­fore Mur­doch can,’’ Hulme says.

‘‘It’s this in­cred­i­ble tug-of-war within Frank be­cause part of him re­ally wishes Mur­doch was his son.

‘‘And the other part of him sees that Mur­doch, as with ev­ery­body else, is, within Frank’s mind, a threat. Ev­ery­one is the en­emy, in­clud­ing his own sons.’’

Hulme was in­trigued by the early re­la­tion­ship be­tween Sir Frank and Mur­doch.

‘‘There’s a feel­ing there was al­most a men­tor/stu­dent re­la­tion­ship (be­tween Packer and Mur­doch) in some re­spects,’’ he says. ‘‘But make no mis­take, this was a fight to the death.’’ Hulme be­lieves it brought out the com­pet­i­tive best in both men. ‘‘These two men were made for each other,’’ he says. ‘‘If Ru­pert Mur­doch didn’t ex­ist, Frank Packer would have in­vented him as the per­fect ad­ver­sary.’’

Sir Frank’s fear­some in­abil­ity to out­wardly show love for his sons fas­ci­nated Hulme.

‘‘He loved Clyde and he loved Kerry even though he could not demon­strate that in any con­ven­tional sense,’’ he says.

‘‘Be­cause of his in­abil­ity to en­gage like a nor­mal fa­ther, he was only truly happy when the three Packer men were en­gaged in this bat­tle with Mur­doch.’’

Sir Frank’s softer side sur­faces only with his two wives – first Lady Gre­tel Packer, Kerry and Clyde’s mother (who passed away in 1960), and his se­cond wife, Florence – and his dog, a stray called Henry, whom he lav­ishes with kisses. It’s an in­dul­gence his chil­dren could only dream about.

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